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From the Editor’s Desk
Stops Along the Way

In the mid-1990s, when ASTM International’s Web site was new, ASTM management started using the term “Digital Path” to describe the dream of the fully electronic development and delivery of standards. I think some of us were hard-pressed, in those early days of widespread use of the Internet, to imagine what form the Digital Path would take. At a time when the handling of basic e-commerce required more resources than even many large corporations had anticipated, the reality of an electronic workflow from standards development through delivery seemed an abstract concept and a distant hope.

In the decade since the Internet began to change information management radically , ASTM staff has worked nonstop to pave the Digital Path. While it’s safe to say that we’ve recently closed the loop on digitizing the inception-to-distribution cycle — with Work Item Registration for embryonic standards and the availability of redlined and historical versions of completed ones — staff continues to enhance components of the path based on user needs. In this issue, you will find the latest in a series of occasional updates SN has published on the current state of the effort.

You will also find here that ASTM International is extending information technology beyond standards development to improve other services. ASTM’s Education Services department, which offers symposia that enrich the knowledge-base for standards development as well as training in the use of standards, is using the Internet to good effect. Those wishing to submit abstracts for symposia papers are able to do so online, and finalized, peer-reviewed papers from the events are now published in the online Journal of ASTM International. And “attendance” at ASTM’s Technical and Professional Training programs often takes place in cyberspace, through the online ASTM International University.

Later this year, ASTM’s Proficiency Testing Program, a laboratory statistical quality assurance service, will introduce online data entry, as well as the electronic distribution of final data reports to program participants and sponsoring technical committees.

Back in the early days of Internet technology, while trying to imagine the Digital Path, I had thought it would be finite — that somewhere, someday, we could call it “finished” and rest on our laurels. I see now that that was an old-fashioned understanding of this new technology. Even though ASTM now provides digital tracking, editing, layout and publication of standards, there appears to be no end to the process and product improvements we can make, and the ways that we can grow with information technology to provide more seamless service to our members and customers. Bob Dreyfuss expresses it best in his article for this issue: “The Digital Path continues to be a road with no end, just stops along the way.”

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

Copyright 2004, ASTM International